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February 27, 2013
• Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Referee: M. Atkinson
• Attendance: 27856
V. Moses 73'
Thanks for joining me this evening folks, that's all from the Riverside as Benitez lives to fight another day at Chelsea.
90' + 3'
There's the whistle and Benitez can afford to be pleased with his side's work this evening. Chelsea deservedly through and they set up a mouth-watering contest at Old Trafford in the last eight.
This has been far from a comprehensive display from Benitez' side, but eventually their class has shone through. Zemmama snatches at a loose ball on the edge of the box and with that, goes Boro's unlikely revival.
Yellow CardNicky Bailey
Nicky Bailey picks up a needless booking for clipping the heels of Ake; the 18-year-old has been quietly efficient at the heart of the Chelsea midfield this evening. Definitely one to keep an eye on for the future.
Another chance goes begging for Boro as Miller eludes the Chelsea back four, but after a pin-point through ball from Haroun, the 25-year-old could only slice his left-footed volley wide.
Hines should have made it 2-1 after he out jumped the casual David Luiz at the back-post, but he could only angle his effort wide from about five yards. That would have set up a thrilling finale.
The home side have a free-kick about 30-yards out, bang in the centre of the goal but their evening is summed up as substitute Merouane Zemmama curls harmlessly into the clutches of Cech.
Matt Scott at the Riverside - ""Champions of Europe, we know what we are," sing the Chelsea fans. "Champions of Europe, you're not any more," retort the Middlesbrough crowd. "Champions of Europe, we'll sing it 'til May," finish the Blues. Top work from the terraces as this game winds to a conclusion."Champions of Europe, we know what we are," sing the Chelsea fans. "Champions of Europe, you're not any more," retort the Middlesbrough crowd. "Champions of Europe, we'll sing it 'til May," finish the Blues. Top work from the terraces as this game winds to a conclusion."
Boro look completely stunned after that superbly worked second goal and Oscar, whose contribution has been outstanding this evening, is replaced by Marko Marin with just over 10 minutes to play.
Chelsea are cruising through the gears now as Oscar torments the hosts' defence, before skipping past two static red shirts and hammering a low drive inches wide of the post.
Matt Scott at the Riverside - "After 73 minutes, Chelsea finally show their top-flight, title-chasing, Champions League-winning class. Oscar, Eden Hazard and Victor Moses combine with slick one-touch work in and around the box before the latter prods into an empty net from the Belgian's pass. The tie looks to be as good as done, and the Riverside has fallen silent, save for the happy Blues fans, for the first time this evening."
Yellow CardStephen McManus
GOAL! Middlesbrough 0-2 Chelsea. What a wonderful goal from the visitors as Hazard and Oscar exchanged delicate passes in the Boro penalty box before the Belgian squared for Moses to tap into an empty net. Game over.
Substitute Hazard almost sealed the Blues' passage into the quarter-final after Ramires galloped forward at an exposed Boro defence before supplying the Belgian, but he could only angle his effort the wrong side of the upright. So close.
Friend attempts an audacious long-range effort, which is easily closed down as the home side are looking bereft of creativity and ideas in the middle of the park.
The home side are struggling to get a foothold in the game, but Ake makes a superb intervention on the edge of the box after a long ball forward.
Tony Mowbray's response is to introduce Ishmael Miller at the expense of Main, who has struggled to make an impact. Chelsea looking more likely to get a second as Boro push forward.
Matt Scott has got tonight's attendance at the Riverside - "The official attendance tonight is 27,856, which is the second-highest crowd the Riverside has seen this season, behind November's clash with Sheffield Wednesday that saw tickets offered at massively reduced prices. Almost the magic of the cup, but not quite."
On comes Hazard, who replaces the ineffective Benayoun.
Chelsea seem to be enjoying a new lease of life after relinquishing the shackles and Torres should have doubled their advantage but the Spaniard can only lash his effort over the bar after springing the offside trap.
That goal has stunned the hosts, who will now have to open up and risk getting carved open on the counter attack through the pacy Moses. It's finally game on at the Riverside though.
GOAL! Middlesbrough 0-1 Chelsea. Just as I say that, Chelsea take the lead through Ramires with a sumptuous curling effort from the edge of the box. Boro didn't get enough shirts out to him and he made them pay, unleashing a perfectly weighted effort that flicked off Torres and into the far corner!
The second period has begun in a similar vein to the first, neither side are forcing the issue and the Championship side look content to get numbers behind the ball.
The teams are back out onto the pitch and we're all set for the second-half, the visitors will have to be much improved if they are to avoid a replay.
Matt Scott from the Riverside - "Boos roll down from the Chelsea fans as Martin Atkinson blows the half-time whistle. It's been pretty uninspiring stuff from the Blues, who do not look likely to break Rafa Benitez's winless run on Teesside on this evidence. Fernando Torres may have been eyeing lower-league opposition to break the funk he is currently in, but he has been well marshalled by the Boro back-line."
A largely uneventful first half comes to a close with Oscar's attempt the closest either side have come and Carayol's long range drive Boro's response. Food for thought for Mr. Benitez during the next 15 minutes, don't go away.
45' + 3'
The half-time whistle blows, with neither side able to break the deadlock at the Riverside. Plenty more to come after the break.
A wonderful sliding challenge from Friend thwarts Moses, who is becoming a little bit predictable as he attempts to go on the outside of the left-back again.
Rafa Benitez is busy making notes before his half-time team talk in three minutes, I just hope he isn't playing hangman. Chelsea must improve dramatically after the break if they are to reach the last eight.
Middlesborogh's first shot on goal comes from the quiet Mustapha Carayol, who comes inside onto his favoured right-foot before plundering a 20-yard drive which is cleaned up by Terry after Cech fumbled the bouncing ball.
Haroun finds space on the right but his attempted cross is miscued into the arms of Cech, while at the other end, Hines' first contribution is to head Moses' dangerous cross away from danger.
Bikey's evening is over following complaints of a tight hamstring from the Cameroon defender and he is replaced by 24-year-old Seb Hines. A big blow for Boro that.
Oscar is attempting to inject some impetus into his side as he forces a flurry of corners 10 minutes shy of the break, but his delivery is poor and the Blues lose their momentum when Ferreira passes the ball out of play.
Andre Bikey, who has been struggling with a knock, stands up to pinch the ball off Oscar after the Brazilian tried to nutmeg him in the box. It's still goalless as neither side have conjured much in the way of a clear-cut opening.
Excellent pressing from the home side, who force Terry to pass all the way back to Cech. They look a very organised and well-drilled outfit so far.
From Matt Scott at a freezing Riverside - "From the opening 26 minutes, you couldn't easily say who the Premier League side were if you had to guess. Middlesbrough have been composed in possession and largely kept Chelsea at bay, for whom Fernando Torres has been timid, hitting one low cross ahead of everyone in the area and bobbling one low shot at Jason Steele. Boro have come closest through Scott McDonald's header and the volume is cranking up at the Riverside."
Haroun does brilliantly on the touchline to pull the ball back to Nicky Bailey, but McDonald can only head the 28-year-old right-back's dangerous cross wide of Petr Cech's upright. A decent opening for the hosts.
Moses once again has the beating of Friend on the far side, but Stephen McManus is equal to his low cross and thumps it clear. The former Wigan man is enjoying himself against the Boro left-back though.
Chelsea toss possession away inside their own half, but Belgian midfielder Faris Haroun can't find the killer pass to find Curtis Main. Careless from the Premier League side.
Approaching midway through the first-half and the home side are starting to move the ball well on a tricky surface, The pace of Torres is still a danger on the break, however, as he fires a tame effort goal-wards, which Steele comfortably gathers.
A combination of Paulo Ferreira and Ramires haul down Boro skipper Rhys Williams, but Grant Leadbitter can't pick out a red shirt from his curling free-kick. Chelsea are just shading proceedings so far.
Incidentally, from the brains at Goal.com towers, Rafa Benitez has never won at the Riverside, with his Liverpool side drawing three and losing two of their five trips to Teesside whilst under the Spaniard's stewardship.
Great chance for Chelsea as Moses torments the backpedaling Friend before sliding the ball across to Oscar, but his low drive was superbly beaten away by Jason Steele in the hosts' goal. The first real chance of the game so far.
The Champions League winners have set about their task well here, although they survive a scare after Scott McDonald is narrowly flagged for offside when it looked as though he had eluded the clutches of John Terry.
Friend does well to prevent Moses from getting his cross in and the home side comfortably deal with Oscar's poor ensuing corner, before Torres flashes another low cross across the six-yard box but no-one was there to help it in.
Oscar sends a teasing ball across the face of the Boro goal just inches away from the onrushing Victor Moses. Early warning sign from the visitors there.
Fernando Torres has an early run at left-back George Friend, but the former Wolves man manages to scramble it out for a throw after making the Spaniard look quick!
Meanwhile, on the field neither side have been able to assert themselves in the opening five minutes as they try and keep the ball on the floor in a brisk wind.
Over in the South-West corner are a few hundred Boro fans, the self-styled 'Red Faction'. There's a drum, incessant jumping, and scarf waving. It's just a flare away from bringing an all-out experience of Milan to Middlesbrough.
Here we go then, the visitors in their home strip of all royal blue get us underway on a chilly night in the north east.
The teams are out onto the pitch, with both sets of players shaking hands during the pre-match necessities. Blues midfielder Nathan Ake looks suspiciously like a young Ruud Gullit, let's hope for a performance in the same ilk as the imperious Dutchman.
Despite a Premier League team coming to town and tickets slightly reduced in price, the Riverside Stadium is nowhere near full. Maybe 1,500 Chelsea fans at most are housed to my right and are not making an awful lot of noise, despite being introduced to the pitch as the "Champions of Europe".
Kick-off is just five minutes away here at the Riverside, can the Championship high-flyers spring a surprise to reach Old Trafford?
The Blues' defeat against Manchester City on Sunday saw the European champions slip a staggering 19 points behind Sir Alex Ferguson's side in the title race, but you would have to fancy them this evening.
Neither side have been in good form coming into this one, but with a mouth-watering clash against Manchester United awaiting in round six, both sides will be keen to progress.
Middlesbrough - Steele; Bailey, McManus, Bikey, Friend; Carayol, Leadbitter; Williams, Haroun; Main, McDonald. Subs - Leutwiler, Zemmama, Emnes, Ledesma, Hines, Miller, Smallwood.
Tony Mowbray's side have been in disastrous form of late in the Championship, with a run of just one win in nine games having seen Boro slip out of the play-off places.
Chelsea - Cech; Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Bertrand; Ake, Ramires; Moses, Oscar, Benayoun; Torres. Subs - Turnbull, Cole, Luiz, Lampard, Hazard, Marin, Ba.
Blues manager Rafa Benitez has made a host of changes for the long journey to Teesside, as Yossi Benayoun makes his first start for almost two years alongside youngster Nathan Ake.
Good evening all and welcome to Goal.com's coverage of Chelsea's trip to the Riverside to face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fifth round. I'm Jordan Halford, thanks for joining me.
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